M$ knows Competition, not Standards

December 16th, 2005

“Standards are great — there’s just so many of them to choose from!”

To me, that its a joke, but to Micro$oft – it just seems that is how they think. The largest software company on the planet has a long running history of not going with the standards, but rather making up their own, and inviting others to ‘conform to their standards’. The Massachusetts OpenDocument debate is just the latest example:

“Competition between standards we believe is a very good thing.” — Microsofts Alan Yates, general manager, business strategy with Microsoft’s information worker group

It appears M$ will never learn, and as long as they have such a dominance in the market and an ability to force consumers to “stick with their products” millions will continue to be forced into the Micro$oft Lock-In. M$ knows competition, this is what they do best, but they don’t like to play along in the ‘standards’ game. M$ fails to acknowledge that technological competition should be based on the product applications and services offered, not by cheating the system to see how much of the customers data they can lock up – so that it only works “right” with their own application.

“Microsoft believes a future with more than one open document standard is preferable to a single standard… It’ll be up to third-party vendors to supply the necessary converters and filters so that users can move between Microsoft’s proposed Open XML specification and the OpenDocument standard”

Diving into Dvorak

November 10th, 2005

dvorak laptop

It has probably been 8 years now since I first wanted to learn how to use the Dvorak (or Simplified) keyboard when I saw my crazy friend Craig give it a try in high school. Now after learning about the benefits of Dvorak over Qwerty again in class and from my new friend Topher… I’m diving into it. It’s difficult though – like learning to type all over again! I’ve even rearranged my keys (as much as possible w/the touch pointer in the way) so there is no easy going back for me. In my spare(?) time between classes now I’m practicing with my local copy of A Basic Course in Dvorak.

Also interesting, to configure your console and X-session for the use of Dvorak see kbdconfig and edit your /etc/X11/xorg.conf from something like:

Option "XkbLayout" "dvorak"

… or…

Option "XkbLayout" "us"

… and change it to this…

Option "XkbLayout" "dvorak,us"

Option "XkbOptions" "grp:shift_toggle"

Now you can switch layouts by pressing both Shift keys. This text was written very slowly by a Dvorak newbie. 🙂

Save, save, save – or use DD

August 30th, 2005

The golden rule when doing any work on a computer is Save your work. Save early and save often! Yet even as a self described computer guru and security guy, I still forget to save my work at times. Luckilly, I was editing only text and had some common GNU/Linux utilities available to save me the frustration of doing the work all over again!

It was shortly after midnight, and I was up writing a quick page on my wiki about planning what to run on the wiesefam.org website. Time passed quickly and I had now been working on it for nearly 1/2 hour, but it was not quite finished yet and I didn’t want to “save” it until I was done. The “just save it” thought came into my head (thanks God), yet I dismissed it thinking “what could go wrong? I’m just adding text”.

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Gmail invites – not for “Anyone”

August 26th, 2005

In January and possibly even up to April of this year, I was sending out my google gmail invites out to friends via the Mailinator
service. Mailinator acts like an anonymous drop box, its a place to direct emails that you expect to receive instantly (like from web-registration pages) that you can “pickup” on the website, and keep your own personal inbox clean.

I’ve just tried this test again, and now google gmail is blocking invites to mailinator.com (and related) addresses. I was able to send an email directly to the same account from within gmail though, so apparently they are only worried about the invite process. The reverse psychology (that entices us, along with the cool technology) and tragedy of google’s “invite only” system appears be of significant importance to them.

Big Brother Google is watching you…, see the 21C3 presentation (german) (babel de-en, google de_en)

Google controls more and more of the information we (out of our free will) access every day. With a new google single sign-on account, you now access google services who controls how you search the net, search local information, map out directions, shop online, read the news, send email, send sms, send im and chat online, write your blog, socialize with other people, etc (more) and all of these words transmitted are subject to targetted advertising (including your email). Google basically owns the Net – the Information Sphere in which modern society exists.

The GoogleOS has surpassed Microsoft’s plans for world domination of the operating system, software, game console, MSNBC, computer hardware, television, email and other markets (just now getting more into online maps, etc). The world now runs off of the Internet and web services are the tools.

Do you love Big Brother? (btw- I just finally read 1984 this summer, and I need to learn German)

Lost Cellphone Story, Harassment

August 21st, 2005

The Suprise – Last night after my brother’s wedding (which was great btw — future post) we went out to eat after the reception for a 2am breakfast at Perkins. Apparently then my phone slid out of my pocket and got left behind at the booth, then the next early-morning customer likely found it… and began to abuse it extensively. He made his way through calling perhaps everyone in my address book on my phone and left them terrible messages early Sunday morning or harassed them over the phone personally, eventually pretending to be me after finding out my name from the conversations. Almost all of my family and friends in town for the wedding received the nasty messages, and were a bit shocked to receive them of course. I don’t think many had even checked yet to see that they were supposedly from “me”.

My parents received the messages as well, and that morning we worked to get the phone back and get it disconnected. Calling my cellular service providor (Alltel) from their number in the phone book and the 1800-Alltel9 number, all I got was an automated machine with no option to speak with a person for technical support until regular office hours resumed on Monday. I found this perhaps the most frustrating and disturbing, even more so than the harassing calls being made on my behalf all morning, was the feeling of not being able to do anything in response. (Assuming everyone who knows me would be able to immediately conclude these calls were not from me since it is completely out of character for me and voice differences.)
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PC Predicts Felony – Precognition?

August 1st, 2005

I’ve just had the thought of precognition on my mind tonight, because I was watching the horr(or/ible) movie Mothman Prophecies. It got me thinking about the precogs from Minority Report. Now it seems that is not far from the future, as a computer recently predicted a crime before it happened in NYC (using just statistics I’m sure). (interesting how both movies came out in 2002)

Also tonight, we got into a discussion about what makes movies good and bad, and decided there has to be some substance or meaning that the audience gets out of it – like any work of art. In this regard, I highly recommend American Beauty, or The Sixth Sense (from M. Night Shyamalan as we were talking about him tonight).

Birth of Google and.. I need a Thesis!

July 28th, 2005

I just read the quick wired.com article on the Birth of Google and am impressed! Yahoo and Google, both born out of Stanford and I assume both the result of some curious research projects – now both the most popular search engines and synonymous keywords of “the Internet”. The power of ideas and tools to change the world continues to suprise me, especially in this age of “the net”. I really need to come up with something truly exciting for my research thesis in grad school!

Even though I didn’t go to Stanford or UM like some brilliant people I know, I think that I still have the potential to contribute something worthwhile and notable… but I’m just looking for my niche, and to buildup the tools necessary to excel within that niche. Looking back and trying to remember (with difficulty at times) all the great interesting computer science I learned in my years of undergrad, I think somehow I could have done more work to solidify it deeper into my brain. My mind was in a thousand different directions all the time though, picking up a piece of many different interesting things along the way, but perhaps not holding on hard enough to some of the things I’ll need to use later on… even if I didn’t need to use them then. This upcoming school year is going to be an intense one and I’m looking forward to it… as well as to processing, internalizing, applying and in a way recording all the valuable things I learn. Look out world, Brian’s getting ready to do something big!

More plugins

July 25th, 2005

I’ve just installed the UTW2 plugin which I saw in use on dan cameron’s site, along with quicktag for html code for those writing comments. I grabbed a shoutbox that is ajax powered (very cool) and now I’m looking at a spell checker. Yee-ha! this is neat stuff.

Some things I’d still like to integrate into my site/blog are: wordpress/gallery integration, random image (that looks good) from gallery, quote of the day, captcha, stats, change the random images in my theme, theme switcher…

Testing WP Themes

July 20th, 2005

I’m currently enjoying the Random Image theme for WP 1.5 (seen on alexking.org) though I’ll probably change the images out sometime. Has anyone else done this yet?

One photo software trick I’ve been looking for, is a good way to create an outline box of a certain size (or scaled) then navigate it over a large image to find the section to crop. Then the cropped image always has the dimensions you want! Why is this so hard – I imagine there must be a FOSS tool for it.